Celebrating a Life of Service
The Ohio Valley and the state of West Virginia lost a true community leader Wednesday with the unexpected passing of J. Michael Myer, executive editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register. He was 69.
Myer’s career spanned from the mid-1970s through 2020. He was inspired to pursue a reporting career following the Watergate hearings, and often would say it only took seeing his first byline in print to become truly hooked on the business.
Myer was a newsman, one who prided himself not only on reporting the news, but also in making sense of it. He was honest and fair, passionate in his work and respectful of and loyal to those he worked with.
His career spanned from pasted-up pages to desktop publishing, and from smoke-filled newsrooms to cell phones. And while ink ran through his veins, he was first and foremost a family man. Myer was a husband, father and grandfather. He also was a friend and confidant, along with a trusted historian.
A proud Wetzel County native, Myer received his journalism education from the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University. He began at this newspaper in 1974, serving as a reporter, editor and ultimately executive editor. He also served his hometown for a time as editor and publisher of the Wetzel Chronicle and Tyler Star-News.
For the past 30 years, this page and space highlighted Myer’s commitment to the news and to his local community. He was a prolific opinion writer, penning thought-provoking editorials and columns each day. His work touched on all number of subjects — from local, state and national politics, to the needs of the local food pantry, and to promoting the local church back-to-school event.
One of the stories that epitomized Myer’s career happened in 2006, when then-President George W. Bush spoke at the Capitol Music Hall. Upon learning of a local family that was dealing with an immigration issue concerning their enlisted son not being able to get a travel Visa for his children in the Philippines, Myer wrote a column and directed a front-page story on the injustice to coincide with Bush’s visit. The president was alerted to the story in The Intelligencer, and two days later the family learned that their grandchildren would, in fact, be able to visit.
That’s impactful work, and but one example of many where Myer advocated for and championed his local community.
Myer received numerous awards over the years from his peers, and his editorials and columns always garnered high praise. In 1996, based upon his work and his commitment to bettering journalism in the state, the West Virginia Press Association bestowed upon him the Adam R. Kelly Premier Journalist Award, the organization’s highest honor.
His efforts to better his community didn’t stop at the Ohio Valley. In 1985, Myer and other news people from throughout the state traveled to Pocahontas County to help folks there recover from a terrible flood. He recalled driving computer equipment and relief supplies to friends there to ensure they could publish a newspaper and help keep their communities informed.
Myer’s legacy will last for decades. His tireless efforts to advocate for our local community will not soon be forgotten.
Rest in peace, Mike Myer. You will be missed.